Where are the arrested farmers? How many they are?

“As per news cases under IPC Sections 162, 269, 307, 308, 427 have been lodged against 40 farmer leaders so far. In addition to that around 600 people are reported to be missing. According to the claims made by a group of lawyers, around 300 of those missing are kept in the Tihar Jail…”
Condemn State Repression on Protesting Farmers and Media Persons
_ Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners- West Bengal

Right to protest is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed under article 19(1) of the Indian Constitution to all of its citizens. Nonetheless it has been observed that the Central Government has unleashed all sorts of repression on the farmers who have been staging protest against the new farm laws over the past two months on the borders of Delhi. Things started happening when Delhi Police first used water cannons on the farmers in the chiling cold winter & put barricades to obstruct the farmers from entering into the national capital. But when defying all such obstacles thousands of farmers marched into the borders of Delhi and started to stage their protest, the Government adopted the tactic of malinging them as groups sponsored by the Khalistanis or various illegal organisations.

Things took a new turn after thousands of farmers marched on the streets of Delhi riding on their tractors to mark the 72nd Republic Day of India. Though majority of the farmer unions reached into an agreement with the Delhi Police regarding the route of the tractor rally, because of the barricades put by the Delhi Police at various points on that very route on the 26th of January, a section of the farmers went astray. Finally a group of farmers reached at the Red Fort area and hoisted the flag of their union and another religious flag of the Shikh community. This act has been described by the BJP Government & the corporate-funded big media houses as an act of conspiracy to demean the Government of India. But surprisingly enough when our Prime Minister leased out the Red Fort to the Dalmia group, none of those media houses considered it as shameful to the nation! Not only that, during the tractor rally when a young farmer called Navpreet died, these media houses only corroborated the official version of the delhi Police regarding his death. But quoting one autopsy sergeon the grandfather of the deceased claimed that the cause of death was something like bullet injury. Some other sources like the Caravan magazine has done a detailed enquiry into the matter and after having consultation with the specialists came to the same conclusion regarding the cause of this death. But almost all the big media houses remained silent on the matter and turned their entire attention to make a story of cospiracy done by the protesting farmers out of the incident that took place at the Red Fort.

Actually this whole theory of cospiracy was concocted to delegitimise the farmers movement which became quite evident when the Delhi Police, at the behest of the Home Ministry, started registering FIRs against the farmers & their leaders. As per news cases under IPC Sections 162, 269, 307, 308, 427 have been lodged against 40 farmer leaders so far. In addition to that around 600 people are reported to be missing. According to the claims made by a group of lawyers, around 300 of those missing are kept in the Tihar Jail. Earlier the NIA sent notices to the farmer leaders & those supporting the movement in a bid to intimidate the protesters. A dalit woman & trade union activist Nodeep Kaur has been arrested under false charges as she mobilised workers in support of the farmers movement. She has been reported to be sexually abused and currently under judicial custody. We condemn all such acts of intimidation by the Delhi Police in unequivocal terms.

While the corporate-sponsored media potrayed the incident of the Republic Day as a planned conspiracy done by the farmers to undermine the Government of India, a section of the journalists who tried to potray the real story behind it have faced false charges being registered against them. FIRs have been lodged against them under various sections of the IPC including 153(B), 505(2) & the Sedition Act. Two freelance journalists were picked up by the Delhi Police while they were reporting from ground zero of the protest site.

Though one of them was released later on, the other named Mandeep Punia has been beaten up randomly by the Delhi Police and later on sent to Tihar jail as his reporting laid bare the involvement of the RSS men in the act of threatning given to the protesting farmers for vacating the protest site. Presently Mandeep is out on bail. But this attack on press freedom reminds us of the days of the colonial India. We strongly condemn this attitude of the government taken for silencing the voice of the independent media.

At present concrete barricades have been put alongwith metal spikes & wires in different parts of the Delhi border. It looks like feudal era forts being constructed by the rulers. We must stress that, they are not people of any foreign power trying to invade our country but the very own citizens of our nation who have democratic right to free movement in the national capital for their democratic demands. There is total internet shutdown throughout the protest site & none of the media persons are allowed to enter the site thereby blocking all routes of informations coming outside.

In the prevailing situation we deamnd,

* Immediate withdrawal of all the false FIRs lodged against the protesting farmers

* Withdrawal of false FIRs lodged against the journalists

* Immediate & unconditional release of all those arrested in connection with the ongoing farmers protest

* Repeal of all the three new farm laws & the Electricity Bill, and ensure legal guarantee of MSP to the farmers.

* Repeal Sedition Act & other draconian Acts like UAPA, PSA, NSA, NIA.
_ Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners- West Bengal, Press Release 2021 February 06

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